What makes a golf bag a “good” golf bag? There’s really nothing to the basic concept, just a simple bag to hold your golf clubs, a few balls, maybe a tee or two and you’re set. This may be true, but then why are there so many different kinds of bags out there right now? Go spend some time on a fairly busy course some weekend and you’ll see something like 300 or 400 different golfers each day, every single one of them has their own bag full of golf gear and I’ll bet you just about everyone has one that’s different than the rest. I’ve seen staff bags, cart bags, stand bags, really skinny carry bags, old style leather bags like your grandpa used to use, and well just about everything in between. You can pretty much say I had seen it all when it comes to different golf bag offerings. Or had I?
Like many golfers I don’t have the game to be sporting a staff bag and I don’t always take a riding cart so I cannot fully commit to a cart bag either. I walk once in a while so I definitely like the concept of a stand bag. However, for times that I do ride stand bags just really don’t get the job done when it comes to strapping them to a cart, be it a push cart or otherwise. Recently I felt that I had the perfect answer for the kind of bag I need. Most of my rounds are spent walking while using my Sun Mountain Speed Cart so a few years back I picked up a Sun Mountain Speed Cart Bag. The Speed Cart Bag (SCB) did fine for the most part. It was obviously great on my speed cart and I had very little issues with it on the back of a riding cart. But what about at the driving range when I don’t feel like taking the time to strap it on the speed cart and I’m not playing so there surely is no need for a riding cart? Not to mention the speed cart bag isn’t necessarily the lightest and easiest bag to tote around either.
In comes the Sun Mountain Super Light 3.5. At first it looks like many other stand bags that are available around the world, it has the backpack strap system like most of today’s stand bags have, it has legs that keep it up right when you need to set the bag down and from a glance pretty much everything else most other stand bags offer their owners. This is where the similarities end. This statement was taken from a recent press release announcing the new concept: “Sun Mountain lightweight carry bags are more versatile than ever thanks to the new-for-2011 cart- friendly features that allow the bags to work equally well as carry bags or cart bags. Features include a cart-friendly bottom that allows the bags to sit straight on motorized carts, cart-strap pass through, leg lock, and additional hand holds. Sun Mountain carry bags with cart-friendly features include: Superlight 3.5, Superlight SLX, H2NO, Four 5 and the Zero-G.”
It sounds to me like this could be the bag that many of us has been waiting a long time for. As an equipment tester for THP rarely will I come out and ask to review a specific product, most of the time I just sit back and let the reviews come to me and as always I’m more than willing to offer up my take on anything that needs to be checked out. Not this time. The date this announcement came to THP was December 2, 2010 and within seconds of reading the press release I was on the phone trying to see if there was a chance that I could review this product. The reason I was so excited to try this out is simple, I personally have been stuck in that “in between” spot as a golfer for a very long time. As I said earlier, stand bags have always had all the features I’ve wanted, but never ever delivered when it came to functionality. There has always been a give a little/get a little sort of thing going on with most of the golf bags that are on the market today. If someone was telling me that there’s something out there that is all give without making me sacrifice functionality I had to check it out right away.
Obviously Sun Mountain sent over a bag for us to review and yes I was lucky enough to be chosen to be the one to do the review. Upon opening the box I was shocked at how cool the bag looked. Sure there were pictures attached to the first press release that I received, but the pictures really do not tell the whole story with this bag. First off the colors are gorgeous. I had no say in what color showed up but when it turned out to be the Black/Royal Blue/Gun Metal color scheme I was happy as could be. The color patterns are very nice, and as you’ll see in the picture below it happens to match my Speed Cart perfectly! The next thing I noticed was just how light the bag actually was. As I said earlier I had been a Sun Mountain Speed Cart Bag owner for quite a while and really had no idea that a golf bag could be this light. Right after unboxing I immediately began to check things out by unzipping and digging around in every one of the 7 pockets. It wasn’t very long before it became very clear to me that storage space will not be an issue as I began to move all of my things over to this bag. I can be a bit of a pack rat when it comes to what I carry around in my golf bag; of course there is the usual of balls, tees, ball markers, divot repair tools (about 30 of them it seems), a marker, pencils, a rule book, bug spray, lip balm, sun screen, and a kitchen sink. At first I thought I was going to have to get rid of a few things in order to make room for everything in this “smaller” stand bag but as I kept on emptying pockets on my old bag I continually found myself with room to spare over in the SL 3.5. I have to admit, I was shocked and maybe even a little disappointed that I wasn’t forced to get rid of anything, great job Sun Mountain!
Here is one more little bit from Sun Mountain before I get into my final thoughts on the bag:
This bag is the result of 25 years of stand bag evolution. It utilizes our most advanced stand system, our new patent-pending top design with three integrated handles and a bag body configured for maximum utility. The Superlight 3.5 is ideal for the golfer who wants to carry or ride on a cart. This bag is truly state of the art.
- There are seven pockets including a velour-lined valuables pocket, water bottle pouch and multiple accessory pockets
- The contoured E-Z Fit Dual Strap System is comfortable and easy to adjust
- The roomy 9.5″ top has four dividers to organize clubs
- Other features include a riding-cart-friendly bottom, a leg lock strap which secures the legs during cart use, and a cart strap tunnel that passes through the pocket so cart straps don’t compromise pocket access
Long before this review came about I was under the impression that once you commit to moving to a cart bag, or in my case a speed cart bag, there would be no going back. I felt that the room these cart bags offered would be so dramatic that there is no chance of ever returning to a stand bag, I was wrong. Having pretty much everything I own packed into this bag I decided to see how much it weighed. Keep in mind this is fully loaded with everything I mentioned above and 14 golf clubs. The total weight: 21 lbs. That 21 lbs. feels even lighter with the E-Z Fit Dual Strap System that Sun Mountain has put in place. This strap attaches to the top of the bag which moves the center of gravity resulting in better balance and an easier carry. I’m not kidding; you barely know it’s there.
So what about the cart? It is supposed to be a cart friendly stand bag after all, right? I’m like one of the many golfers that I know who only use a cart when I golf. Now that doesn’t mean I’m always on a riding cart necessarily, and neither are some of my friends. In the past few years we’ve seen an enormous boost in the use of push carts, more specifically in my case a Sun Mountain Speed Cart. I had absolutely no issues what so ever with the SL 3.5 strapping right to my speed cart. All I did was use the Velcro leg lock strap at the bottom of the back side of the bag to secure the legs of the bag and there was literally nothing else to it. It popped right on the Speed Cart and I was ready to roll. The 4-way 9.5” top made getting clubs in and out of the bag a breeze. That plus the 4-way top with full length dividers truly made use a piece of cake. Don’t worry all your riders, the SL 3.5 is still here for you as well. A really cool feature here is an integrated strap tunnel to help secure the bag to a cart, that means no more hassling with whether or not the cart strap goes over or under the handle or if the bag goes sideways or straight in on the bag holder on the back of your cart.
I have owned a lot of golf bags with my very first was possibly the ugliest bag on the face of the earth. It had old leather with broken zippers, ripped out pockets, and a broken up bottom. I’ve had everything short of a big leather staff bag and every single bag I’ve had always left me needing just that one little feature that pulled it all together. If it had the room I needed it probably meant that it was too big, if it had a great stand on it then the thing fell short on the cart, if it was great on the speed cart it wasn’t so great at the driving range. Maybe I’m too picky when it comes to golf bags, but it’s 2011, why should I ever have to settle? One last quick note, the material used to make the SL 3.5 is a compressed nylon that feels very sturdy to me which would lead me to believe that durability will certainly not become an issue down the road. The second I started using the Sun Mountain Super Light 3.5 my days of settling for a bag came to an end. This bag truly is a cart friendly stand bag, but that is nowhere near the end to all of the great features it has to offer. The Sun Mountain Super Light 3.5 is available at fine golf retailers everywhere for right around $170. You can read more about this bag and many other great golf gear from Sun Mountain at their website. You can also find great Sun Mountain gear at www.Blind9golf.com.